Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White House Criticizes Liberals. . . Again

The White House is voicing anger with liberal criticism. . .again. During an interview with The Hill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal critics, whom he says fail to appreciate President Obama's accomplishments:
"I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. . . . I mean, it’s crazy."

The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality."
Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: "They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president."
My Take
Obama has faced unfair criticism from the left and the right. To the extent that he and his staff are angered by unfair critiques, they have the right to vent.

Gibbs' comments, however, suggest that liberals have no basis to criticize Obama whatsoever. That is a preposterous notion. Not only has he fallen short in some policy areas (anti-terrorism, gay rights, etc.), but it is also the role of progressive social movements to push political leaders beyond their comfort zone.

Change does not come from politicians alone. Instead, engaged social movements press political officials for change. Furthermore, dissent is an essential ingredient for change. Gibbs' comments do not acknowledge this fact.

Note: I have blogged on this subject previously. See, e.g., Criticizing President Obama Is Pragmatic

UPDATE: Other liberals have responded very passionately to Gibbs.

AMERICAblog News: Gibbs: People who are upset with Obama don't live in real America, didn't help get Obama elected

Robert Gibbs attacks the fringe losers of the Left - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com


Hippi Chicki Niki said...

Stupid for several reasons. The biggest of which is the fact that many of these progressives were exactly the people who were excited and fired up and turned out to vote in 2008. In 2010, they are where all of the energy is in the Democratic party. The Republicans, aware that the Tea Party movement is where all of the energy is on the right, have been chasing that energy trying to ride it to the polls in November. The President and Gibbs need to be aware that the people on the left with the most energy are those "fringe losers" criticizing him.

I hate to bring up Jon Stewart, again, but he (or his writers) have done a brilliant job juxtaposing Obama speeches with Bush speeches on the same topic pointing out eerily similar structure and language. Salon.com's list in that article, as well as your post from a week or so ago about the new attempts to snoop on citizens without warrants, underscore some of the Bush Admin policies that he has adopted and/or expanded. I have often wondered if The President, in reaction to the constant criticism from Republicans and the allegedly independent Tea Party, have moved to the right in an effort to counteract and disprove all of the rhetoric about him being Stalin, Mao or Hitler... or all three in one. I would hope that he would recognize, by now, that they are going to criticize him and call him those names anyway and, if his actions belie those characterizations, they'll just make up facts to "prove" it to people. But, I'm beginning to wonder if that is what they are doing and they have the expectation that the progressive and liberal base will trot along happily despite the shifting policies? Your post on his inconsistent statements about LGBT rights is the perfect example.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Thanks for the response. I suspect that two things are happening. 1. Obama feels that liberals will support him regardless. 2. Obama is a centrist who despises liberals asking him to do more. Of course, Obama cannot say these things. Instead, his surrogates have.

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